Exercise.. To some it sounds like absolute torture but, to others, it can be an exhilarating and empowering experience. I believe that everyone can find some type of activity to love if they just figure out what it is that they are passionate about.
For me, exercise saved my life. Specifically, weightlifting and teaching group fitness. Throughout junior high, I was a competitive cheerleader and I absolutely loved it! It made me feel strong and beautiful to work so hard and see the benefit when our team took the stage and placed in multiple national competitions. When I got to high school, however, the realm of school cheer threw me for quite a loop when drama and cattiness were a daily encounter.
I quit at the end of my Junior year. The beginnings of what would become a scary battle with Anorexia was stirring within me and I withdrew from all of my friendships so I could spend more time alone. I had no hobbies. Instead, I would repeat the vicious cycle of starving myself, eating, beating myself up about it, punishing myself with exercise, and then starting the cycle over again. Friends, let me tell you this is no way to live.
As I got healthier, I started following powerlifters and figure competitors on Facebook and other forums. They encouraged me to stop trying to get skinny and start trying to get strong. I laughed when they told me to eat my carbs and stop wasting my time on the treadmill. I had lost so much weight that way, it obviously worked! But, that's the thing, it did't work.
My life was falling apart before my own eyes. I didn't have friends, I still didn't love myself, and I was broken. As I transitioned to college, I continued to battle negative thoughts and self image struggles. It wasn't until the Spring semester of my Freshman year that I found the kind of activity that would no longer be punishment. Weightlifting and teaching aerobics and yoga classes has changed my life.
My aerobics class.
Having fun with one of my aerobics attendees!
As close to a "home gym" as I will ever get.. A barbell and a mirror at the cabin! When in doubt, deadlift!
Me, promoting the church fitness group.
My best friend (we call her Turkey) and I, heading to the gym!
I have learned that when you find a type of physical activity that you love, you stick with it. You feel strong and empowered, and you want to share that feeling with everyone around you. The right fitness routine isn't accompanied by feelings of obligation and guilt! It is something that you do because you love it. You invite your friends, you spend time with others, you enrich your life.
When did fitness become a punishment?
This week I encourage you to love yourself through movement. Do something, anything! It doesn't matter what it is. Go for a walk, run through the neighborhood, play a game of flag football with your family, or dig out your rollerblades and hit the boardwalk. Maybe you want to try weightlifting! I will post some routines for you to start with later this week. I know it is intimidating to start, but you have to remember that everyone starts at some point. We have all been the new person in the gym or touched the barbell for the very first time!
Remember, fitness isn't supposed to be a punishment. It should be a way to love and give back to your body and empower you!
Comment below, what are you going to try this week?
Be the masterpiece that you are today, and know that where you are today is enough.